Why I am voting Labour on June 8th

What are my reasons behind voting Labour this Thursday?

As is traditional during election campaigning all the political parties present similar desires but different methods to achieve those same goals. For instance, all the politicians are promising to pump money into the NHS and increase the numbers of police officers. However, the Labour Party pledges some additional policies which, if delivered upon, I think can really benefit the country. There are also a number of other issues which have brought me to consider that right now after seven years it is time to return to a Labour Government.

IMG_0547Renationalise the Railways

Have you been on a train in recent years? That train will probably be delayed. If you need to use it at peak time then you probably won’t get a seat and you’ll feel a lot like a sardine in a tin. In addition the price of your train ticket goes up every year with no change to the standard of your service. This happens whilst the companies responsible for delivering your shoddy trip to work rake in huge profits.

A friend of mine recently complained about an overcrowded train to Arriva Trains Wales’ Twitter account. She was met by a generic response blaming limited rolling stock availability. This from a company who made nearly £30million worth of profit in 2016. Whilst ticket prices continue to rise, the service deteriorates. Imagine if those profits were pumped back into the service instead of lining the pockets of shareholders?

IMG_0545Renationalise Royal Mail

Ever wondered why you get so much junk mail through your letterbox each week? This is because companies pay vast amounts of money to Royal Mail to deliver these to every household. Does this money go back into the service? No. Just like the railways, profits go to shareholders. Now these do include employees who also have some shares and benefit from the company doing well. However they would happily forgo having to carry back breaking weights of leaflets and pizza menus on a weekly basis.

BBC News reported that Royal Mail’s pre-tax profits rose to £335m in the year to 26 March 2017. I’m sure the shareholders appreciate this but again, imagine if that money was reinvested in what used to be a public service. Having mail delivered to every address in the UK is a necessity. Hospital appointments, energy bills, important correspondence all need to be delivered. An extra £300million invested into the service could mean more jobs and also lessen the burden on postmen who have to contend with the growth of internet shopping.

Taxation

The Labour Party have been very open about their desire to raise taxes. However this policy will only affect the top 5% of earners. I’m sure they’ll survive. Similarly they are looking to raise corporation tax. This increase to 26% will still be a lower rate than it was in 2010. It will also be lower than the USA, Argentina and Australia, for example. Whilst some countries do indeed have lower rates of corporation tax, do they have the infrastructure and skilled workforce to support their business? The Conservative Party will look to lower corporation tax but still promise extra money for the NHS and security services. This explains why their manifesto included no costings.

Tory Manifesto and Social Care

Even with the benefit of knowing in advance of a need to prepare a manifesto, the final product from the Conservatives has been ridiculed for failing to include any costings for their plans. Labour however included a document which demonstrated that theirs had been fully costed. Then came the social care u-turn. First there was no cap mentioned. Then there would be a £100,000 cap. On Friday evening that £100,000 was now a floor. I know I’m confused. Is this really a party that can be trusted to solve social care?

Let’s not forget that under the Tory government the desire to deliver a seven day NHS has been so badly handled we saw junior doctors on strike. This plan has seemingly been abandoned for the time being. Instead Teresa May has decided to pursue a vote that would lift the ban on fox hunting. Therefore instead of concentrating on planning changes to social care she has chosen to pursue the barbaric practice of hunting foxes. This is terrifying prioritising of issues by our current Prime Minister.

IMG_0543Teresa May

The former Home Secretary became Prime Minister almost by default. As leadership candidates dropped out of the race she took on the role uncontested. Her party didn’t even have the opportunity to vote for her as leader. When she did come to power she was very clear that there was not going to be an election until 2020 as planned. How quickly that changed. She refused to attend the Leaders debate last week and when questioned arrogantly claimed that she was too busy planning Brexit. This indicates where Teresa May’s mindset is. She doesn’t think that she needs to campaign to win this election, it’s already won in her mind and she is looking forward to the task beyond this election. With the exception of Friday evenings Question Time, she has avoided appearances with the public and was clearly not comfortable in that situation. Instead she has hidden, surrounded by approved audiences.

Yesterday she tried to claim that “enough is enough” and that the country has been too accepting of extremist views. May is correct, enough is enough. As Home Secretary and now Prime Minister she has overseen the reduction of the police force by 20,000 officers. Whilst all political parties promise restoration of police numbers, the Conservatives campaign of austerity brought them down in the first place. But she is correct. Enough is enough. She asks voters to judge her on her record. Immigration targets have not been met under her watch. Similarly radicalisation in prisons has not been addressed. Seven years of Conservative government has left the country vulnerable. The security services and the NHS both need money pumped into them. Cutting corporation tax won’t achieve that. Their austerity policy built upon the desire to lower the deficit has failed spectacularly and has been pushed back further to 2025. So what is the alternative?

IMG_0544Jeremy Corbyn

Although the Tory friendly newspaper media have been battering him, the more Jeremy Corbyn has presented himself in front of the camera the stronger he looks. He is a man of principles. Some gave him a rough time for not clearly stating that he would press the red button to fire a nuclear weapon. This reveals a man who is not simply providing lip service to campaign promises. He realises what such an action means. Although an audience in York might be happy to condemn this planet to nuclear war the man who would be responsible was more burdened by that responsibility. His belief that peace comes with communication is also commendable and accurate.

He has been supported by Labour members, winning two leadership contests. Teresa May hasn’t won any. She wanted to make this a campaign about who you wanted to lead this country forward. The longer this campaign has gone on, the more that has been diluted. This is because we’ve now seen who is truly strong and stable and he’s wearing red.

For the many, not the few. Let’s make June 8th the end of May.

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The EU Referendum : Results

imageTime to sum up what has happened in the last 24 hours.

The Leave campaign proved victorious with a difference of less than 4% across the whole of the UK. However both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. Scotland’s First Minister has stated categorically that this result means that a second referendum regarding Scotland becoming independent from the UK is highly likely to give voters the opportunity to prevent Scotland being dragged out of the EU against their will. A similar discussion may now also occur in Northern Ireland regarding a potential reunification with the Republic, who are members of the EU. In Wales the majority of the public voted to leave but that has caused a mad scramble from the First Minister to try and secure formal assurances that a financial black hole will not emerge when EU funding is withdrawn, specifically in the deprived areas which need the support the most.

The closeness of the result also highlights the huge divide that now exists across the population, with many commentators describing the vote as a rebellion against the establishment. A split has also developed between younger voters, who generally backed remain, and the older generation, who voted to leave despite not having to see the aftershocks in a few decades time. If this split could become nasty, it is nothing to the potentially explosive reaction to immigrants. Whilst politicians are saying the right things that no EU nationals will be booted out of the country, the bitter immigration debates during the campaign have stirred up passionate emotions. A vote to leave and taking control of our borders has therefore made some people from outside the UK feel unwelcome in our country and fearing violent repercussions.

This UK referendum has also triggered debates in other EU nations regarding their membership, destabilising the continent at a time of serious threats of terrorism, with countries such as Holland possibly next in line to withdraw.

The impact on the UK was instantaneous with the value of the British pound dropping like a stone in the markets, with the FTSE 100 and 250 also falling. Shares in Barclays and RBS banks took a significant tumble as the decision reverberated across the world. The markets had been confident of a remain victory and this reaction addressed the balance from that miscalculation. Scenes of celebration from Leave supporters seem grossly inappropriate in this context.

This referendum was promised by David Cameron in the Conservative manifesto to appeal to UKIP voters and appease Euro-skeptics in his own party. However this gamble has cost him the position he coveted the most, Prime Minister. Realistically his position was untenable given his support for the Remain campaign and it is only logical that supporters of Brexit take the lead in negotiating the divorce settlement. Leave campaigners Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are early front runners to take over as Prime Minister but their appointment may trigger another General Election to see if they would have the support of the nation and that could be another tricky vote to predict.

The Government’s opposition, the Labour Party, are also questioning the suitability of their leader Jeremy Corbyn with a motion of no confidence being tabled. Corbyn was largely absent from the campaign and unwilling to share a platform with David Cameron because, although both backing the Remain campaign, their reasonings for this position were different. Labour’s failure to get the party’s Remain message out to their traditional strongholds is where a sizeable proportion of blame is being directed and as Leader he is ultimately accountable. As a result both the Government and the opposition could be in need of new Leadership in the next few months.

The aftermath of a Leave victory in the early hours of this morning will be felt for months and decades to come, not least as it will take two years for the departure process to be completed. However the impact is being felt right now and I fear we have only seen the start of a Britain now divided and close to tearing itself apart on the streets and in it’s political parties, resulting in a Kingdom no longer United.

The EU Referendum

imageNational Referendums are intended to trigger debate and discussion. However the manner in which the current EU Referendum has been held is utterly shameful.
It began innocently enough with both sides making claims which were immediately dismissed by their opponents. A pattern emerged of claim and counterclaim, with neither side really having the evidence to support their viewpoint and both options seeming to be a step into the unknown. As a result statistics began being trotted out to support their spurious claims.

One of the major statistics that the leave campaign has jumped upon is that the UK contributes £18.8billion to the EU, or £361million a day “enough for a new NHS hospital every day”. This implies that by not paying in this money the UK could build a new NHS hospital everyday, something I’m sure we would all be happy with. Firstly, that wouldn’t happen. That additional money has not been guaranteed for the NHS but it COULD be spent on it. Secondly, the statistic is wrong. The UK receives a rebate, negotiated by Margret Thatcher, and when you consider the project funding and farming subsidies it in turn receives the net contribution in 2014 was only £8.4billion, NOT £18.8billion.

Another major debating topic and source of scaremongering has been the subject of immigration. A leaflet for the Leave campaign this week claimed that Turkey and Macedonia were lining up to join the EU. A handy map was also included to highlight how close they are to Syria and Iraq, countries devastated by conflicts the UK has contributed towards, implying that we will soon be swamped by EU citizens desperate for our resources. Of course, migration has to be controlled and the UK Government’s target of net migration being reduced to 100,000 has been missed. But scaremongering tactics of this nature can lead to some very dangerous attitudes and reactions.
Theoretically a leave vote, revoking the free movement of EU workers, could result in a huge loss of those employed in the UK, such as vital nursing staff, and in return pensioners enjoying retirement in Benidorm could have to return to the UK instead; hardly a fair exchange. The Leave campaign state that international law would prevent expats from being forced to return home, the Remain side say there is no guarantee; back to the claim and counterclaims.

Workers rights generally will also come under threat. The EU sets minimum standards for working and employment conditions, such as the Working Time Directive which imposes limits on average hours worked, rest periods and paid annual leave. These basic rights for employees are of course a burden on big business who, if free from these requirements, could get away with treating their employees however they saw fit and most importantly of all, saving money and improving profit margins.

imageNigel Farage, a particularly vocal individual in the referendum debate, tweeted his despair in 2010 that the European Parliament voted for an increase to maternity pay. This is an indication of the potential attitudes that workers may be faced with if their rights are no longer protected, where sickness is a costly inconvenience and shareholders profits come first. Even more terrifyingly the UK could opt out of the European Convention of Human Rights with a Leave vote, and who knows where that might lead.

Is the EU perfect? No of course it isn’t. Immigration, the economy, law making and security are all important issues that need addressing but these are ongoing processes and cannot be simply solved with a single national referendum vote. It should also not be made as a reaction to your dislike of PM David Cameron or preference for Boris Johnson. The result of this referendum vote will resound with the UK long after those individuals have left politics.

But whatever your reasons for voting Leave or Remain, I would encourage you to fully investigate the facts before making your conclusions. For instance, The Sun newspaper backed a Brexit this week and in keeping with their history of publishing questionable facts, just as Liverpool FC supporters, declared a boost to shares on their front page. However the reality is that during the recent weeks of campaigning for the referendum the FTSE 100 has developed an undeniable downward trajectory caused by the debate and unknown outcome. Which just goes to prove the need to fully explore the facts behind the headlines and bold statements.